Althea and Donna, “Uptown Top Ranking”: 1977

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    In January 1978, Vivien Goldman reported from Kingston for the UK music paper Sounds on her encounter with Althia and Donna. The reporter anticipated that an album planned by the duo would fulfil the promise of their debut single ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ (UTR). An established hit in Jamaica, the record was about to end the nine-week long run of Wings’ ‘Mull of Kintyre’ at the top of the UK chart. Goldman mused that the duo, while surprised by their sudden success, were perceptive and talented enough to use their profile in order to establish a music career: ‘People that hope to brush them aside as strictly joke business may find the joke's on them.’ The duo did make further singles (and Althea had already cut five discs for producer and singer Derrick Harriott), albeit all received with a lack of enthusiasm by record buyers. They delivered the album, its promise unrealised, and have thus far proven to be one-hit wonders. The point here is not to suggest that the joke is instead on Goldman: while the durability of an artist and their recordings are not available to even the most prescient of contemporaries, when success is registered with a number one chart placing, who would bet against its reproduction? Of course, as evidenced across this volume, whatever the currency of the term, the categorisation of one-hit wonder can be moot, dependent upon the context in which the artist is framed and the position in time from which their achievement is delimited. Likewise, not all hits, whether a one-off or those heralding more durable careers, burn equally brightly. Indeed, while the one-hit wonder might appear to be the acme of pop’s ephemerality, the appearance, elevation and resonance of some records and artists is undiminished by an ascription of fleeting novelty.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOne-Hit Wonders
    Subtitle of host publicationAn Oblique History of Popular Music
    EditorsSarah Hill
    Place of PublicationUK
    PublisherBloomsbury Academic
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9781501368424
    ISBN (Print)9781501368400
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


    • popular music studies
    • popular music history
    • Reggae
    • black popular culture

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